Abstract

Water resources in the Middle East region are becoming scarce, while millions of people already do not have access to adequate water for drinking and sanitary purposes. Water resources depletion has become a significant problem in this region that is likely to worsen. Current research by remote sensing analysis indicates a descending trend of water storage in the Middle East region, where agriculture plays a crucial role in socio-economic life. This study introduces an approach quantifying water depletion in the Middle Eastern countries, which are being challenged in the management of their water resources. Furthermore, this paper presents results of a survey assessing the status of water use and supply in Middle Eastern countries and outlines some potential remedies. Specifically, Iran's water use is evaluated and compared with its neighbors'. The water equivalent anomaly (WEA) and total water storage (TWS) depletion are two indexes of water scarcity calculated for Middle Eastern countries surveyed herein. Our analysis reveals that Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Iran are countries with very negative water scarcity indexes. These estimates prove that international cooperation is needed to manage available regional water resources and reverse depletion of natural water sources. It is demonstrated herein that virtual water trade can help remediate regional water shortage in Middle Eastern countries.

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